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Moroccan MPs 'barred from entering West Bank'

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Israeli authorities on Monday barred two Moroccan MPs accompanying EU parliamentarians from crossing into the West Bank to meet Palestinian officials, one of the lawmakers said.

"The Israel authorities prevented me and my colleague Ali Salem Chekkaf from crossing into the West Bank without giving us any reason," Mehdi Bensaid told AFP.

"I do not understand this Israeli action, which was an insult to the Moroccan parliament and people. I denounce it."

The two MPs were part of a delegation of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. Morocco belongs to a PACE Middle East sub-committee, as a "partner for democracy".

Bensaid and Chekkaf said they would stage a sit-in at the Allenby Bridge crossing between Jordan and the West Bank until the EU visit ends on Tuesday afternoon, before flying home to Morocco from Amman.

The remaining 16 members of the delegation of Council of Europe's sub-committee on the Middle East were allowed to cross the border, Bensaid said.

He added that the team is touring the region to prepare a report on the Middle East.

"We denounce that fact that it is the Israelis who grant visas between two sovereign territories, because Palestine, despite all the problems, has now been recognised by the United Nations," Bensaid said.

Last November, Palestine was accorded the status of observer state at the world body.

Jordanian officials were not immediately available for comment.

Headed by Josette Durrieu, a member of the French Senate, the group met King Abdullah II and government officials in Amman on Sunday.

The Allenby Bridge is also known as King Hussein Bridge between the West Bank and Jordan.

Morocco is one of the rare Arab countries to receive Israeli officials despite the absence of formal diplomatic relations. Egypt, Jordan and Mauritania are the only Arab states to have forged full diplomatic ties with the Jewish state.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130408/moroccan-mps-barred-entering-west-bank-0